1 / Go for Gold
I had high expectations for Portobello Road Market’s Gold. An oasis of calm from the stalls selling everything and anything a truck can unload, I’d definitely recommend sitting on the greenery laden terrace. The cured beef was exceptional, accompanied by courgettes and Parmesan and I made a second reservation on the spot. The chickpea flatbread with burrata stracciatella, marinated greens and speck went down a treat, as did the fresh, zesty mix of Vesuvio, tiger and datterini tomatoes.
In fact, with veg and salads making up most of the menu, they’re not to be overlooked. The wood roasted peppers for example were complemented perfectly by a subtle hint of anchovy and a healthy portion of burrata, while the wood-roasted aubergine matched it in a perfect marriage with the goat’s cheese. The star of the (vegetable) show for me though were the artichokes. Braised violet artichokes with young chard and roasted garlic were intensely flavoured, a showcase for why artichokes should never be overlooked. At Gold it would be criminal. Don’t worry if you’re in the ‘no meal without meat camp’ though. The braised meatballs were popular at the table, as was the wood-roasted chicken with nduja, tomatoes and Parma ham. The dish sat on a thick slice of sour dough which soaked up all the juices. But nothing could compare to the rabbit tortelloni. If the cured beef had me make another reservation; the rabbit tortelloni made me want to move in. The freshness of the pasta, the tenderness of the rabbit filling and the porcini-butter sauce in which the dish swam was just incredible. This was a standout dish for me, not just at Gold but in London. Marmalade ice cream and chocolate tart were a tangy sweet end to the meal and the chocolate sorbet was divine. Get yourself to Gold. You’ll probably see me there.
Where: 95-97 Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, W11 2QB
2 / The Drop in Coal Drops
From the people behind Barrafina, El Pastor and Quo Vadis comes The Drop wine bar. Another addition to Coal Drops Yard, the bar has sourced some carefully-selected wines and chef Karan Ghosh is at the helm to deliver some unique but hearty dishes. Truffle crisps and a selection of cured meats and cheeses start the meal off well, accompanied by a glass of white wine. A small plate of stracciatella, courgette, beans, mint and basil really stood out, with the crunchy vegetables and soft, creamy cheese contrasting well.
I also had a lot of time for the charred squid with puy lentils and the chicken-liver paté; both dishes rich and flavoursome. The strawberries, elderflower, clotted cream and shortbread on the other hand are something I still crave – even days after the meal. I now borderline refuse to eat a strawberry unless it has been soaked in the elderflower goodness that The Drop’s were.
Where: Unit 22-24 Bagley Walk Arches Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4DH
3 / E&O Chelsea Launch
On the premises of what used to be a pub, there is a relaxed and low-key feel, which contrasts with the moody vibe of the Notting Hill original. The Thai basil Daiquiri made an excellent aperitif and it was the crispy squid and salmon tiradi to that really caught my tastebuds among the starters. The Malaysian wok-fried beef noodles were a luxe take on a comforting soul-food dish and the black cod didn’t disappoint. Still finding room for dessert, we finished with the chocolate chilli cube – because how could you not?
Where: 392 King’s Rd, Chelsea, SW3 5UZ
4 / Hacha Agave Bar
From the Luxury Tequila Ambassador of the Diageo Reserve, this East London agaveria hosts over 25 tequilas, mezcals and other lesser-known agave spirits. Named after the axe used to cut the piñas during tequila production, Hacha will also allow guests to pair spirits with dishes such as rum-soaked pineapple. The Mirror Margarita is the signature drink, served from a piña, and other cocktails include a take on a fermented pineapple drink, featuring reposado and mezcal Tiny tacos and ceviches are also available.
Where: 378 Kingsland Rd, Dalston, E8 4AA
5 / Zela London Bloody Mary Bar
Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal and Enrique Iglesias’ Zela opened earlier this year, giving us rainforest cafe nostalgia. In addition to vibrant live music, a new brunch is also on the menu. Available every Sunday, the bottomless offering includes prosecco, Bellinis or a trip to the imaginative Bloody Marybar. The brunch itself features a choice of charcoaled salmon, soba noodles, chicken satay skewers or –and this one you must order – the 48-hour braised wagyu teriyaki.
Where: Me London Hotel, 336-337 Strand, WC2R 1HA
6 / The Parrillian Terrace
Barrafina has welcomed an outdoor dining terrace at Coal Drops Yard. At Parrillan, unlike its tapas-serving counterpart, guests will be invited to cook their own dinner. The main event involves grilling your own meat, fish and vegetables, ranging from red prawn and diver-caught scallop to pluma Iberica and 50-day aged beef picanha. The perfect spot to dine while we still have some good weather.
Where: Coal Drops Yard, Stable St, KingsCross, N1C 4PW
7 / Brunch at the Courtyard
Is anyone else bored of eggs Benedict? The Courtyard in Fulham has had are-vamp and aside from gorgeous cocktails, brunch is also now on the table. But this ain’t your grandma’s smashed avocado, and instead features tacos and nachos in place of your sunny side-up. It’s a chilled atmosphere, with killer tunes that inspire a karaoke session or two. You’ll have pre-ordered your tacos beforehand – if you’re in a group you can share the chilli beef, spicy chicken, chorizo and vegetable offerings before you embark upon your tapas-style snacks.
The chorizo sticks (accompanied by feta and a balsamic glaze) and the creamy, cheesy chicken tamale dip were favourites. Chilli con carne and jalapeño poppers were also a hit. Other options on the table were patatas bravas with a spicy pepper sauce, chilli ‘n’ quinoa for the meat-free eaters and a colourful Mexican salad. In case you’re not full, there are churros-filled with milk chocolate and drizzled in dark chocolate sauce. The garden isn’t quite big enough to walk it all off, but Fulham has its fair share of parks. Once the drinks run dry, of course.
Where: 4 Fulham High St, Fulham, SW63LQ
8 / Skylark Views
Another day, another rooftop, this time situated on the banks of Little Venice overlooking Notting Hill. The Skylark Roof Garden offers beautiful views of the city’s skyline and is open for lunch and dinner, as well as drinks every weekend. Dishes include steak tartare and marinated stone bass ceviche, in addition to a delicious sauté of clams, mussels and tiger prawns, and a scallop and oak-smoked salmon fish pie. It’s not all fish – those were just my picks. The rib-eye steak aubergine and sweet-pepper lasagne are both hearty, satisfying choices. Available for private hire during the week.
Where: 10th Floor, 4 Kingdom St, Paddington, W2 6BD
9 / Barts’ New Cocktails
Barts’ speakeasy has developed a new cocktail menu, featuring 12 unique drinks to represent the signs of the zodiac. The special menu will feature a layered cocktail with three flavours to symbolise Cancers, known for being indecisive. Virgos will enjoy a fresh basil and pineapple drink, served in a clay vessel to signify the earth sign. Leo, the lion, will receive Bart’s red-carpet royalty treatment with orange-infused Cognac liqueur, Champagne and edible gold glitter.
Where: Chelsea Cloisters, Sloane Ave, SW3 3DW
10 / Self-Serve Signatures at Liquorette
While self-serve might not always be deemed the height of luxury, not having to wait for a bartender in central London definitely is. Enter Genuine Liquorette, just off Oxford Street, where you can have zero wait time for your Mojito or Tom Collins. More creative cocktails include a Glazed and Confused, with Canadian Rye Whisky and passion fruit.
Where: 6 Rathbone Pl, Fitzrovia, W1T 1HL
11 / The Conrad
Step back in time at London’s Conrad hotel in St James’s. Celebrating 100 years of the Hilton brand, a Vintage Menu has been curated for the hotel’s Blue Boar restaurant. Executive Chef Michael Riordan’s menu includes soused herring with pickled radish and sour cream, as well as the traditional potted pig’s head with piccalilli and sour dough. For mains, guests can choose from Hereford beef cobbler with mature Cheddar-and-thyme scones (and fall under the spell that these addictive baked goods cast) or a hearty wild-rabbit stew. In true traditional fashion, desserts include a classic spotted dick.
Where: 22-28 Broadway, Westminster, SW1H 0BH